Metalica Decreed: Let’s Get Jobs!

Next month a new movie by Bruce Geisler about Michael Metalica premiers. I remember attending a rock concert in 1975 at their Gill commune, at the time I was a student at Northfield Mount Hermon. It was a true commune, at their peak 350 residents called it their home.

In today’s Recorder, Dianne Broncaccio writes about the memories of the Renaissance Community’s heyday, in the mid-seventies.

“Metalica bought the commune a fleet of 35 Honda 300 cars, which got 50 miles to the gallon in the early ’70s. However since nobody else in Franklin County used these cars, they marked the motorists as commune members.

According to Geisler, getting run off the road was not uncommon in those turbulent years. He said he’d only driven one of the Hondas once, when someone fired a shot into the car. “That was the last time I would use one,” he said. “I decided to just keep driving an old VW I had.”

In 1973, Metalica decreed that they would all go out and find jobs,” said Geisler. “They suddenly went from real poverty to a $15,000-per-week income. They ended up having real estate properties in four towns, including most of downtown Turner’s Falls.” The group’s assets included an airplane, a Rolls Royce, a recording studio, a theater and a fleet of luxury buses. Rock stars chartered them for tours.

Today several of these businesses still thrive around Turners Falls. “When they were impoverished–when all they had was themselves and a common purpose–that’s when they were the happiest” said Geisler…”they went from despised hippies to media-savvy yuppies.”